Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of summer traveling for weddings and to visit family and friends. With travel, comes lots of photo taking. Not that you have to go on a trip to take photos, but travel photo books are my favorite types of photo books to do. So, I suppose you could say that I have to travel so I can take more photos, that go into the photo books, that become the basis for my reviews. Such a personal sacrifice – but you’re worth it!
Speaking of things that are “worth it”, how about those 75% off Picaboo Groupons? One thing I love about Picaboo is they allow you to combine your Picaboo Groupon with the current Picaboo promo so that you can multiply your savings. Plus, you can use your Groupon towards shipping costs as well. Since I didn’t use all of my Groupon, I can still apply the remainder to another book! (Please note: combining the deals will only work with the $25 for $100 Groupon only, not the $25 for $75 Groupon and not the $35 for $100 Groupon – so make note of which one you have! However, you should still try to combine your deals even if you have the other versions, as you never know – it may work!)
Here’s the stats for my Picaboo Classic Custom Cover photo book:
|Book size:||11 x 8.5 (width x height)|
|Cover:||Hardcover – Glossy Laminate Custom Photo|
|Price:||Normally $103.67 (less FREE book promo $39.99) = $63.68 + $8.99 (shipping)
Total: $72.67 (used 75% off Groupon)
Actual Out-of-Pocket after all discounts = $18.17 (savings of 82%)
|Ordered/Received:||Aug 31 / Sept 9|
So, you notice that because I used the FREE book promo that ran through August of this year and my ($25 for $100) Groupon, I was able to save 82% off the cost of this 52-page book. With shipping it only cost me $18.17 after applying both discounts. With the frequent deals that Picaboo runs on photo books, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the right opportunity to maximize your Groupon.
(FREE BOOK ALERT! Speaking of FREE PHOTO BOOKS – for NEW users, get a FREE Picaboo photo book like mine – and combine it with your $25/$100 Groupon for extra savings! FREE Book ends 10/25/10 so click on the link to get your code for your FREE book now!)
For an in-depth look at Picaboo’s software, see my earlier review on the Picaboo Madison. Since the software and process of designing the books are the same, I won’t cover that again in this post, but will go straight to a review of the Classic Custom Hardcover. Keep in mind that while the same software is used to create all the books in Picaboo’s product line, the book styles and paper type are pretty varied.
Print Quality and Photo Book Construction
The book comes shrink-wrapped and packaged in a white cardboard box. Standard shipping appears to be by 2-day Fed Ex from Palo Alto, California. Considering that there were probably lots of folks taking advantage of the free book promo, book production only took one week and got to my door two days later, so good marks for speedy delivery.
The cover features a glossy laminated photo of your choice with your option of adding a title. The spine may be customized with a photo or plain background of your choice, but you can’t customize it with text using the Picaboo software. You may be wondering what I did here to get a title on my spine if you’re not supposed to be able to do that. Well, I like to think outside the box and I don’t like limitations! Admittedly it came out a bit blurry, but I was rushing and didn’t take the time to perfect it. But you get the idea!
(UPDATE 6/11 – Picaboo has upgraded their software to allow you to title (in various fonts and colors) the spine of your custom hardcover photo book!)
Side Tip: How to Add a Title to the Spine of a Picaboo Classic Custom Hardcover
1) Use an external program, like Adobe Photoshop to create a background for your text – it can also be another photo if you don’t want to use a plain background. (Don’t have Photoshop? You can download a free 30-day trial on the Adobe website, or try free program Picnik.com, it’s been tested by a PBG reader and she said it worked for her!)
2) Type in the title you want to appear on the spine onto the background in the font of your choice;
3) Rotate it 90 degrees clockwise so that the text is in the right orientation for the spine;
4) Save it as a JPEG;
5) Upload it to the Picaboo program just like any regular photo and drag and drop into the container for the spine;
6) Use the photo tools to center it properly.
You may have to play around with sizing a few times to get it to the right size, but don’t forget to turn on the trim guides – you wouldn’t want to have your title cut off by accident. Err on the side of smaller. If I could do mine over, I would make the text smaller as it just nearly started to creep over to the top of the book, and would probably choose a simpler font for the text.
Keep in mind that you can use this technique for any photo company that allows you to put your own image on the spine, but doesn’t allow for text (like Shutterfly for instance) though obviously it would be a lot easier and better if the software were upgraded to allow this.
But anyway, back to the book review…
Disappointingly my back cover didn’t print out correctly, there was a white band on the left side for some reason. When I double-checked the preview my photo completely covered the back page, so I don’t know why it printed that way. I’ve made two classic custom books with Picaboo and the other one printed out really nicely.
Opening the book takes you to the first page of your book layout. You can see the stitching that holds together the book. I would prefer to see an overlay sheet in the front like the one that is in the rear of the book to give it a more finished look. The semi-translucent overlay in the back features the Picaboo logo.
Overall the print quality is good, but my blues weren’t as bright as they should be, while my reds were redder. So as it turns out, I like the way my sunset photos came out, but my blue skies weren’t as vibrant as they should be (as you can tell from the cover). It can be hard for a printed photo book to equal the luminosity of the computer screen, so it is a good idea to err on the side of making your photos brighter and more vivid to start with. See this post for more tips on editing your photos with Photoshop or how to edit your photos using iPhoto.
The 100-pound glossy archival paper is standard weight for most printers and overall has good opacity (you don’t want to be able to see the photo printed on the other side) but the paper doesn’t feel as thick as some of the other books I’ve printed. It’s not thin, but it’s not thick either – maybe it’s that the paper is not as stiff as I’ve seen with other books. As additional pages are $1.99 per page – the extra pages are pricey in comparison to other similar type books. (See my 2/8/11 UPDATE below.)
On a side note, Picaboo just upgraded their photo book line to include an extra large version of this book (14 x 11) printed on 100-pound cover stock (as opposed to the standard 100-pound gloss of this book). Cover stock paper is heavier in weight and feel than standard paper and Picaboo confirmed that the paper used in their new extra large book, is more substantial and heavier in feel that the ones used in their smaller books to accommodate the larger print format. Also, Picaboo announced that they’ve dropped the prices on four of their photo book styles by 35%, including the Modern, Ranch, Victorian and Cape Cod styles – all good news. Maybe they’ll consider lowering the price on the additional pages for their classic books too! (hint, hint…)
UPDATE – 2/08/2011: Ask and you shall receive! Picaboo recently announced a permanent price reduction on additional pages:
- Extra pages for Large Classic books have dropped from $1.99 to $.99 per page
- Extra pages for Medium Classic books have dropped from $.99 to $.49 per page
- Adding the lay flat Lay Flat option is down from $15.00 flat to $9.80 flat
In comparing this book and Picaboo’s lay flat Madison book, I like the Madison book a lot more. The Madison is a unique product. The standard hardcover book is fine, but doesn’t stand out from the crowd. Without the Groupon or a promo, adding extra pages over the base 20 pages can make the costs add up rather quickly. (See my 2/8/11 UPDATE above.) There’s no doubt you should take advantage of the Picaboo Groupon – though I’d use it on the Madison (or try out the new large 14 x 11 with the thicker pages!)
Did you get your free Picaboo custom cover hardcover book? Share your thoughts on it!
If you haven’t tried Picaboo, there’s no better time to check out the FREE BOOK deal below!